The Archives were established as an independent department in 2005 for the purpose of maintaining continuity and minimising the partitioning of already existing comprehensive collections of materials into separate collections (People, Productions, Photo-documentation). The archives contain complete sets of items organised according to a different logic than the documentation collections, which relate to individuals, institutions (theatres), and events.

The basic functions of the archives are to gather and select archival materials (acquisitions), ensure their safe storage, record and document them, and make them accessible for scientific and cultural use. The archives gather written, visual, and sound documentation on Czech theatre culture from the distant and more recent past up to the present day. Its work directly ties in with the main collections of the Information and Documentation Department, which are incomplete and constantly being added to, and their informative value is augmented by the completed collections in the Archives. Archival materials are donated, bequeathed, or passed on to the archives – usually they are monuments to artistic work (of individuals or institutions) and usually are not materials of a specifically personal (private) nature. An example of work in this area is the processing of Václav Havel’s collection in cooperation with the Library of Václav Havel. A specialised database was developed that records basic information on the archives’ items and contains a description of the collection and data on the storage and condition of archival materials. The archives’ files (the basic unit of documentation) are thematically divided up in the database into three file groups: People, Theatre, Miscellanea (e.g., theatre events, festivals, realia). The archives’ collections mainly cover the second half of the 20th century.

The most important collections include:

  1. People (the collections of Vlastimil Brodský, Václav Havel, Petr Lébl, Luboš Pistorius, and the most recent edition is the large collection inherited from the director and artist Ota Ševčík).
  2. Theatres (the collections of Theatre on Řeznická Street, Kladivadlo Theatre in Ústí nad Labem, Comedy Theatre Prague /1994–2001/, Prague Chamber Ballet, Semafor I, Semafor II, Village Theatre)
  3. Varia (the collections ‘November 1989 at the Theatre Institute’ – the collection relates to the events during the Velvet Revolution; the Administrative Archive for the Prague Quadrennial from 1967 to the present – the archiving of photo-documentation and stage designs stored in the Information and Documentation and in collections; Recording of the Discussion on the Preamble of the National Theatre in Prague on 7. 6. 2007).
  4. Oral history (the Lída Myšáková Paulová collection – a 2006 recording of the memoirs of the recently deceased dancer, teacher and choreographer)

The archive helps in the organisation of exhibitions. For instance, it loaned materials to the exhibition ‘Citizen Havel/Václav Havel in a Changing Europe’, which was held in Berlin in 2007. Each year a staff member of the archive takes part in a conference held in the National Archives in Prague: ‘Archives, Libraries, and Museums in a Digital World’, devoted to the issue of cooperation between archives, libraries, museums, galleries, and heritage conservation institutions in the use of information and communication technologies for the conservation of cultural heritage and its public accessibility.

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